Glendale’s Odd Lamppost Swastikas

For years I’ve heard about the strange swastikas in Glendale. Folklore has it that this once very Germanic city adjacent to Los Angeles erected lampposts with the Nazi symbol as a sign of brotherhood with the fatherland across the Atlantic. As I’m in Los Angeles for work, I couldn’t resist to see them for myself and determine if any of this was true.

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Residents commonly tell people that they are Nazi symbols (one Glendale native even said as much to me today), but most people don’t realize that in 1995 the city of Glendale researched their origins and had this to say:

Our research, along with assistance from the Public Service Department, reveals that the lampposts in question were acquired from a United States company (the Union Metal Company of Canton, Ohio)…and were installed at various times between 1924 and 1926, within the City…All of the design features of the lampposts appear to have been approved by the City in the early 1920s, including the Greek cross which includes ends of the arms bent at right angles at a counter clockwise direction which is, by definition, a swastika. From our information, it appears that this counter clockwise swastika design was patterned after the design commonly found on Greek garments as a fret or border, and also is found as a design on navajo Indian rugs.

Not a scintilla of evidence exists to indicate that the counter clockwise swastika design at the base of the lampposts was intended as a political or other statement in support of any group or organization. (source)

Though don’t expect the truth to stop the rumors of Glendale/Nazi collusion.

In fact, the swastikas’ notoriety have made them a tourist attraction in their own right. Either way, they are a quirky part of a city and if you ever swing by to check them out, I suggest touring Glendale’s city hall which is a lovely example of civic art deco architecture.

5 responses to “Glendale’s Odd Lamppost Swastikas”

  1. There are decorations on the State Education Department building in Albany, NY that include swastikas or swastika-like designs. The building was completed in the first decade of the 20th century and reflected the use of the cross motif in a number of folk idioms.
    There was also a soap called White King that was sold in the early 20th century that featured a swastika in it. I will post a picture of the advertisement on my blog within a few days. I photographed the ghost sign in a town in Northern California.

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